Jewels of the Rhine
Welcome to Amsterdam, a fascinating 700 year old city lined with picturesque canals and filled with world-class museums, theaters and cafés. With so much to see and do in Amsterdam consider the extra two night hotel accommodations to fully experience all there is to see and do. The centrally located hotel is a perfect base from which to explore the newly opened or recently renovated museums, the most popular being the Rijksmseum, Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum. Visit the Anne Frank House or tour the Heineken Distillery. Whatever your passion, you’re sure to find something to delight you in this city.
On arrival, you’ll be met by an Emerald Waterways representative at the airport, and transferred to your deluxe river cruise ship where a warm welcome awaits from your Captain and crew. On board one of Europe’s newest river cruise ships, you’ll get to experience all its fantastic features, like the heated swimming pool and cinema. Tonight you’re invited to join your fellow travelers for a delicious Welcome Dinner. Your Cruise Director will also hold a port talk to tell you all about the exciting activities to anticipate in the days ahead as you sail along the Rhine River.
After breakfast you’ll take an included guided walking tour along the cobbled street of Amsterdam to discover its many coffee shops, charming churched and cheese shops. You’ll then take to the waters on an hourlong glass-top canal boat cruise to explore Amsterdam’s picturesque canals. See the city’s bustling streets glide by as you get that perfect picture to bring home. Afterwards, you’ll have free time to explore the city at your own pace. The city is remarkably easy to get around in and explore on your own. You may want to spend time in Dam Square, the heart of the city. The narrow Dutch houses with their cozy window boxes and pristine stoops and sidewalks will charm you. You are sure to find something that appeals to your sense of adventure and curiosity in Amsterdam. Or if you’d prefer to relax after your walking tour, you can always grab a drink in one of the many quirky cafes. Back on board your ship, you’ll enjoy lunch as you set sail through the Dutch countryside, passing its famous windmills as you gently cruise towards the Rhine River. As tonight is your first night sailing, you will enjoy a fantastic Gala Dinner to celebrate.
Today you’ll cruise along the Rhine River to Cologne. Germany’s fourth-largest city was founded by the Romans in 38 BC and given the name Colonia Claudia Ara Aggripinensium. It grew into a major trading center, a position that it held throughout the middle ages and continues to uphold today. While one of the oldest cities in Germany, it is also certainly one of the most modern, largely due to Post WWII rebuilding. After lunch on board your ship, you’ll join your local guide for an included tour of the Old Town with its beautiful squares, historic monuments, countless characteristic memorials and wells, and of course its magnificent World Heritage-listed Gothic Cathedral, Kölner Dom. Once your tour is complete, you’ll be left alone to explore the cathedral, the many shops, museums and galleries – including an interesting Roman artifact museum. Or if you’re feeling energetic, why not climb the 509 steps to the top of the Kölner Dom’s south Tower to the base of the steeple to enjoy spectacular views of the city? The Kolner Dom is full of magnificent artistic treasures and relics, most notably the Shrine of the Three Kings, which is housed behind the main altar.
Situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers, today you arrive at the 2,000 year old town of Koblenz. After your included walking tour, use your free time to visit the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress on the opposite side of the river. Once part of the Prussian defenses against the French in the 19th century, it was later used as a headquarters for the American military during WWII. Perhaps you will use your free time to wander through town and take in the views. Visit Koblenz’ Altstadt, most of it rebuilt after the war, which surrounds the northern end of shop-lined, pedestrians-only Löhrstrasse , the city’s main shopping street.
In the afternoon, you’re in for a picturesque treat as you sail through the spectacular Rhine Gorge. Featuring heavily in German folklore, it is said that the hero Seigfried is meant to have slain a dragon at the famous Drachenfels Castle, which is why the Counts of Drachenfels have a dragon in their coat of arms. As you cruise, you’ll enjoy photo opportunities at every bend, passing countless castles and vineyards as well as the famous Lorelei Rock, which legend says was haunted by a lovelorn maiden whose singing lured sailors onto the treacherous rocks. You’ll also see Pfalzgrafenstein Castle, which was built on an island in the middle of the river as a medieval toll station.
Continue upstream to the town of Mannheim, located at the confluence of the Rhine and Neckar rivers. The city was a pivotal place during the invasion of Germany by the Allies in WWII, and has long been associated with inventions in industry. Enjoy free time in town then later sail onto Speyer, one of Germany’s oldest towns. Take an excursion to the medieval town of Heidelberg including a visit to the impressive castle which overlooks the town.
Once docked in Kehl you will be transferred across the river to Strasbourg, the capital city of the Alsace Region in France. Your guided walking tour will include the Grande Île, including La Petit France, the historical city center and UNESCO World Heritage Site known for it’s medieval black and white timber-framed buildings, old tanning houses, baroque sandstone buildings, canals and river locks. Your afternoon is free for more time in Strasbourg, or perhaps take part in our Discover More wine tasting tour.
The beautiful Black Forest region of Germany has long been a fairy-tale destination – and you get to spend half a day in this magical place. Your day begins with a visit to Vogtsbauernhof Museum, an open air exhibition of 16th century life featuring a number of reconstructed Black Forest farms. Black smoke rooms, furnished farmhouse parlors, bed chambers with painted furniture, shield clocks and tiled stoves can be seen in the houses – as well as the impressive roof structures of the large farmsteads. Your guided tour will give you a fascinating insight into the culture of the Black Forest – and you might even get to see some of the traditional craft demonstrations.
This afternoon you’re invited to a Gasthof owned by a local family, where you’ll enjoy coffee and a presentation on Black Forest Cake. A gasthof is a German-style inn or tavern, often with a restaurant and hotel rooms for rent. Gasthof’s are typically found in smaller towns and are often family-owned. After learning how to make the perfect Black Forest cake, you’ll have the chance to taste the delicious dessert the region is famous for. Back on board your ship this evening you’ll join your Captain and fellow guests for a fabulous Farewell Dinner.